Aug 9, 2009

The Sunday Salon - In Which You Tell me What To Read (Pretty please?)

The Sunday Edwardian London

I'm not supposed to buy any more books for a long, long time. No, really. I mean it this time. In fact, I'm going to follow Memory's lead very soon and make some rules for myself, which I'll then post here so you can all shame me into actually following them. But meanwhile, I can still make myself reading lists, which strangely enough can be almost as satisfying as actually getting books. And today, I need your help.

I've always loved the Edwardian era, and reading The Children's Book left me in the mood for more historical fiction set in this period. Sadly, this time google ailed to point me towards a ready-made list in three seconds. I know many of you love historical fiction, though, so hopefully you'll be able to help me. The only book I can think of is Falling Angels by Tracy Chevalier, which is on my tbr pile already.

Also, I know that another option is to read novels from the period, which I will - Howards End is on my list for the classics challenge. But historical fiction has the advantage of having been written with an awareness of everything that was to come. I realize that nothing will be quite satisfying for me, because what I really want is to read The Children's Book again. Which I will, but not just yet. Meanwhile, I'd really love to hear your suggestions.

Now for part two: I've always shied away from romance for some reason, but after loving both Emma and Dramacon, it seems that I actually really like manga romantic comedies. So I need all you manga lovers out there to tell me what to read next. I'd like something fun, preferably geeky, and not too over the top. I already mean to check out One Piece, After School Nightmare and Fruit Basket, but hey, lists are fun, and I'd love to make one.

Speaking of lists, I'll leave you with a few links: If you like short stories, you should go help C.B. James compile a list of 1001 Short Stories to Read Before You Die. Bella at A Bibliophile's Bookshelf also needs your help: she's making a list of 100 fantasy must-reads. [ETA: I've just heard from Bella that her blog was hacked into and turned into an attack site, so I removed the link for now. Sorry everyone!]

And finally (not list related, but still good!) Ari at Reading in Color is giving away a copy of the awesome-sounding A Wish After Midnight by Zetta Elliott.

Have a great Sunday, everyone.


  1. You can never go wrong with Forster so maybe you might want to read several? An author study of sorts? I am afraid that is the limit of my help for now.

    Thanks for the list links too. I look forward to checking these out. Right now as a matter of fact.

    Happy reading!

  2. I'm afraid your questions this week are completely out of my league. I'm not a huge fan of historical fiction normally, so I haven't read much of it. Then, I have no idea when the Edwardian period was. I've never been able to remember which period was what, sorry. And the only manga I've ever read wasn't good, so I'm completely lost there, too. :)

    On the other hand, I know exactly what you mean about making lists almost as good as getting books, so I can completely sympathize with you even if I"m no help at all.

  3. "But meanwhile, I can still make myself reading lists, which strangely enough can be almost as satisfying as actually getting books."...Oh man, that is sooooo true! I think that's why I can't stop joining challenges--it's just so fun to make the lists!

    But I'm afraid you've left me feeling a bit useless as far as your questions go. Sorry.

  4. I always say Im not going to buy books... but then I find this one I have REALLY wanted for the longest time, and decide to buy it, but then I find this one on the way to the cashier that seems cute so, why not? I am already buying one right? And then I see the new releases... and it goes on and on, till I have a huge pile to pay!

  5. 'The Children's Book' is really exceptional and whatever you read I don't think you are going to find another book quite as satisfying, so one way to explore the same area might be to read some of the children's fiction of that period, work by people by E S Nesbit and Frances Hodgson Burnett. Like you, I really can't wait until I've left a decent enough interval to read the Byatt again.

  6. Dude, we are ENABLERS. There is no way we're going to hold you to your rules, whatever they may be, so don't even try. ;)

  7. I don't have any suggestions for you yet either but I do hope you post your lists once you come up with them :)

  8. Well, I'm sure there are plenty of people who are WAY better at this to me, and just fyi, I'm going to be pretty loose about the 'Edwardian' label, and not limit myself to England, so I hope that's okay. But here's what I would suggest:

    Ragtime, I read earlier this year. I don't usually like a lot of modern literary fiction, and there were things I dislike about this one, but it HAS stuck with me, and continued to maek me think. Plus, any book that has a cameo by Emma Goldman is cool with me! :)
    Does Edward Gorey count? He's mostly Edwardian... ;)


    Colette wrote some GORGEOUS books about Belle Epoque France, and I don't know about where you live, but in the States, noone ever reads them, and it's a cursed shame. I just read 'The Vagabond', which talks about Belle Epoque theater life, and while the first Claudine novel seems mostly focused on sensationalism (as her husband was forcing her to write it to make money), they get better as they go along. And Cheri is a classic - I'm going to reread Cheri and the End of Cheri sometime over the next year, so we can book club it, it'd be great :D.
    Otherwise, teh Jungle is this time period, or you can read, again, Emma Goldman's autobiography, which I also plan to read (for the first time) sometime soon, and poetwise, you can read Joyce Kilmer, Yeats, early TS Eliot, and Thomas Hardy.

    I've never read a Manga, but romance wise generally, I can recommend Kilmeney of the Orchard, by LM Montgomery, which is a really sweet book.

  9. I have to get very serious about my not buying books too. With my hours cut at work starting this next week, my husband and I are having to be more stingy. On the plus side, maybe this will help me whittle down my already overflowing TBR stacks.

    I wish you luck in deciding what to read! I am running up against that issue too (too many good choices to choose from!) and so don't think I could be much help.

    I hope you have a wonderful week, Nymeth.

  10. Oh, I LOVED Howard's End! I hope you get a chance to read it. Will spend some time later today looking through the short story list, and I wanted to thank you for sending me the link to Boyle's Chicxulub. What a powerful story that was!! I want to write about it for short story Monday tomorrow.

  11. Sadly I can't recommend anything on one side or the other! I have read only a few mangas, and few edwardian historical fiction. I think I read "Fallen Angels", but in French translation a while ago, so I'm not sure. But if so, I think I liked it. (I'll have to verify, now!)

  12. I am afraid that I have no books to recommend in these categories, but I did want to wish you luck in your new resolve to refrain from buying any more books for a while. I have made that same promise to myself -- several times --- and somehow I do not have the self-control to follow through. I look forward to reading your rules in the hopes of following them myself.

  13. Well, I haven't really read much historical fiction, but a couple of books I've had a very long time on my wishlist are The Last Mughal by William Dalrymple and Family Matters by Rohinton Mistry.

  14. I really want to read The Children's Book now, too! I haven't really fed my H.fic cravings for a while now...I've forgotten how enjoyable it is to learn about history while at the same time enjoying a good story!


  15. As not a very big reader of historical fiction, my opinion may not be helpful, but if you're reading historical fiction, might as well read Mary Renault's lovely Alexander the Great books. Oo, and if you're in the mood for something long and epic and swooshily romantic, I enjoyed M.M. Kaye's The Far Pavilions a lot.

    ...When I say swooshily romantic - it's not just that there's a romance (it's not that swooshy, I don't think), but that the tenor of the book is swooshily romantic. Lots of people swearing eternal friendship and nobly foiling assassination attempts. In a bleak, England-messing-India-around-during-the-Raj sort of way.

  16. I wish I could jump in with some wonderful, amazing suggestions, but I'm drawing a blank on Edwardian stuff and I read so little Manga that I'm hopeless at recommendations there. So I'll settle for wishing you good luck with your future TBR rules. :)

  17. I wish I cold help, but I haven't read any of either. There seem to be some interesting ones in the other comments though.

  18. Edwardian fiction, eh? Forster, yes (I'm with all the fans of Howard's End). The Age of Galsworthy & Wells. How about Henry James' late novels: The Ambassadors, The Golden Bowl, The Wings of the Dove? The only "historical" novel that comes to mind is The Remains of the Day. Will keep thinking...

  19. P.S. Oh, and Hardy. Jude the Obscure, perhaps?

  20. I haven't read much from the Edwardian period myself so can't recommend much. All I can say is that you really must read Falling Angels because it's fantastic... and Howard's End is not bad too. And Forster's A Room With a View as well. And what about a lovely little film called The Lost Prince? It is set a year or two after the period but Stephen Poliakoff's film is just gorgeous and so sad.

  21. I'm not much help, but I just wanted to say that I agree, sometimes making lists can be as satisfying as buying the books. Only sometimes, though. :P

  22. Carter Beats the Devil. It's during that period, though it's in America. Lots of fun. About two competitive magicians who canstantly try to out do eachother's show. Pat Barker writes brilliant stuff about this period, too. I love the Regeneration Trilogy (You don't have to read them all, but you'll want to.) and have Life Class on my shelf.

    I've heard good things about Tipping the Velvet which is about the theatre world of that time. The Picture of Dorian Gray is fun, too. I like D.H. Lawrence who is the opposite of E.M. Forster but from the same time period. Sons and Lovers is one of his best.

    Oh, if you've never read it Cold Comfort Farm is a wonderful spoof of D.H. Lawrence and those like him. You don't have to know Lawrence to enjoy it, either. P.G. Wodehouse is great fun, too.

    I'll stop now....

  23. I think most have mentioned Forster, Wells and James. How about Conrad? As for historical novels I have to think about that, all I keep coming up with is steampunk!

    I have never gotten into manga, should I try Emma?

  24. Gee, you know how to stump us, Nymeth! 'Edwardian fiction'....I just found this link to a marvellous book that maybe you can find at your library or bookstore, or something: It's the Oxford Companion to Edwardian Fiction 1900-1914. :-D I didn't just tempt you, did I? Did I?
    but if you want a list of good books to read....that I can help you out with!! lol

    And I really will try to not tempt you!

  25. Hey Ana,

    You should share your recommendations in terms of Manga. I really liked Emma and Dramacon, too! I need to get caught up in some of my in-progress series, to be truthful, but lists are fun. :)

    If you get a chance, can you email me? I think you owe me one anyway, but still. :)

  26. So I was going to suggest Fruits Basket, but you already have it on your list :p It's so good! And cute...Another one that's really good is Chobits. It's about a guy who falls in love with a robot girl...seriously, does it get any more geeky than that? But it actually does get quite serious...but it's ALWAYS funny. And it's done by CLAMP who is my favorite anime and manga peeps.

  27. Hmm, can't suggest anything in the categories you mentioned. But I'm loving the gritty realism and dark wit of Joe Abercrombie and the First Law trilogy.

    Personally speaking, I'm wondering if I should bill my fantasy novel as YA or not... the main character is young, but there are some steamy scenes. If you need blog topics, "what's appropriate for YA" would be a good one ;)

  28. Jeez...I have no idea what to recommend. Did you ever end up reading the Lisa Kleypas book that someone suggested? Its historical fiction and romance :)

    On second thoughts, no, I don't think out and out romance books are for you. I just want to enjoy your review if you ever happen to read it :)

    It would be fun seeing a romance book on your blog.

  29. I'm going to have to be like everyone else and say I wish I could help but I can't. If you do come up with a list, though, please share it with us!

  30. Frances: Good idea - I do have A Room with a View and A Passage to India on my list also. Maybe now is the time!

    Amanda and Debi: We book junkies have to find ways to feed our vice without going bankrupt, don't we? :P Maybe that's what makes lists so fun.

    Taschima Cullen: Sigh, I know. Story of my life :P

    Table Talk: So true. Nothing will be the same. You know, I have never read The Secret Garden, and I think now would be a great time. Thank you for the suggestions!

    J.T. Oldfield: lol. I should know better than to even ask, shouldn't I? :P

    Sam: I will!

    Jason: Places other than England are more than okay! Thank you so much for the suggestions. I was hoping you'd come through for me :P Colette isn't well-known around here either - in fact, the first time I encountered her was via Alison Bedchel. And judging by the Anne books, L.M. Montgomery sounds perfect for love stories

    Wendy: I'm sorry to hear your hours were cut :( But whittling down the stacks will be good, of course.

    JoAnn: You are most welcome! I can't wait to read your thoughts :)

    Kay: Falling Angels really sounds like one I'll enjoy. I'm happy blogger is letting you comment again, btw :D

    Molly: Thank you! I have no idea if I have enough self-restraint either, but it's worth a try :P

    Hazra: Thank you for the suggestions!

    Sharry: I sometimes forget, too. But after fantasy, historical fiction is my favourite genre.

    Jenny: The library is now closed for me summer, but after I get my new card in September I'll be sure to check out the Marry Renault books. As for The Far Pavilions, that sounds like my kind of swooshily romantic, actually!

    Memory: The fact that you have stayed strong has been an inspiration. I hope I can do the same :P

  31. Oh, I wish I could find more books about Edwardian Era, too. Most of my suggestions would be romance, so probably not something you'd be interested in. Meredith Duran just published a great romance novel set in Edwardian Britain that's about antiquities smuggling.

    There's also The Mummy by Anne Rice, which takes place in the Edwardian Era and has a great sense time & place. I would definitely recommend that one.

  32. Vivenne: Thanks anyway, though!

    ds: I adored The Remains of the Day! I shall add the others to the list. All I've read by Hardy was his poetry, but I always did mean to change that.

    Cath: Thanks for all the suggestions! That film sounds absolutely fantastic.

    Christina: Yes, sadly only sometimes :P

    CB James: Memory at Stella Matutina wrote a review of Carter Beats the Devil not too long ago that had me aching to read it, but I had completely forgotten it was set during this period. So hooray! I'm saving Tipping the Velvet for a later time because I don't want to read Sarah Waters' whole catalogue too quickly and then cry in the corner until she publishes another book :P I loved Sons and Lovers, and Cold Comfort Farm is on my tbr pile - thank you for the great suggestions!

    Gavin: Steampunk would be welcome, actually :D I can't wait for Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan to be published. And I think Emma would be an excellent introduction to manga, yes. I think you'd enjoy it.

    Susan my dear: It actually doesn't tempt me very much, I'm afraid :P I'm more in the mood for fiction than for theory. But when I get my new library card in September I'll see if they have that. They do have a bunch of Oxford Companions.

    Kailana: A while ago I made a goal of finishing all the series I had started. I have been happily ignoring it ever since. I suck :P

    Chris: A robot girl, eh? That has potential to be geektastic :D And I see it's only 8 volumes, which strikes me as the perfect lenght...Dramacon was too short at only 3.

    Dave: I actually wrote a post about that recently for the Sex in Teen Lit Month - in which several bloggers, authors and teen readers discuss that very topic.

    Violet: I promise you one day I'll review a romance book! I keep telling everyone to try new things, so I might as well follow my own advice :P

    Meghan: I will!

    heidenkind: Oooh, The Mummy! I've read it, but maybe it's time for a reread. And speaking of mummies, isn't the Amelia Peabody series set during this period? I always meant to read those books..

  33. I'm sorry I couldn't help much since I'm stumped myself, LOL.

    However, I'd love to read your list once you've them all compiled! ;)

  34. Sorry I can't help with the first part, but I can have a go at the manga. Have you read The Dreaming series by Queenie Chan yet? There are only 3 and while not romance they incorporate folklore and mythology from Australia and I think you would love them. I plan on starting Angel Sanctuary this month which is a romance between two gay angels which sounds a lot of fun. Oh My Goddess! is a lot of fun. I watched the anime and can highly recommend it its simply charming although it is a long manga series.

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  36. didn't read all your comments, but I absolutely am in love with Colette and I have read pretty much everything she wrote (I think). I had no idea that "no one ever reads them" -- must be a generational thing, because Colette was very popular among my peers. I haven't read her for about 20 years now, but I love her writing. She had an interesting life; her story is worth reading about too.

  37. i just realized i had the Edwardian and Georgian eras mixed up. was going to rec Austen erg.....oh well, a bust from me too!

  38. I will not be much of a help here, Ana, because historical fiction is not my cup of coffee...

  39. I hope you are still managing to keep your TBR pile under control!

    I saw the comment that you left on my blog and am very happy to have been nominated for an award for BBAW.

    I am away on holiday at the moment and have discovered that I don't have access to my email account on my husband's laptop. My email address is jackie (at) but I won't be able to read any emails until Monday. I hope this doesn't cause any problems and look forward to hearing more details.

  40. You may be interested to know that the 101 of the Best Fantasy Books project now has it's own fantasy meme. Check it out: Five Fantasy Questions for 101 Fantasy Books Meme.


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment - interaction is one of my favourite things about blogging and a huge part of what keeps me going.